Last year, Wired.com reported the story of an Arab-American man living in Santa Clara named Yasir Afifi who found a tracking device on his car after the FBI received a vague tip that Afifi posed a threat to national security. On Tuesday, Wired revealed that another California man has found not one, but two federal GPS tracking devices on his vehicle.
Back in 2010, Afifi’s friend posted photos of the GPS tracking device on Facebook, prompting speculation over whether the device was real or not. Within 48 hours, Afifi found out when half a dozen FBI agents and police officers appeared at his apartment to demand that he return their device. More recently, a 25-year-old San Jose resident who only wants to be identified as “Greg” found two GPS devices on his car. The second one had been placed on it sometime after Greg found and removed the first one.
A Hispanic American who is currently living with his girlfriend’s parents, Greg is most likely being monitored because of his cousin, a Mexican citizen who fled across the border into Mexico while under investigation for allegedly dealing drugs. Wired.com says that Greg “is one among an increasing number of U.S. citizens who are finding themselves tracked with the high-tech devices.” The revelation coincidentally came on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a similar case regarding the constitutionality of GPS tracking devices on vehicles.
At the appellate level, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Douglas Ginsburg wrote:
A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.
The possible legality of such sweeping surveillance powers for the federal government raises the spectre of dystopian novelist George Orwell’s classic book, 1984, which depicts a totalitarian society in which the government engages in round-the-clock surveillance of its citizens while posing as a benevolent “Big Brother” looking out for their best interests. Indeed, the prospect of a 1984-style society was raised multiple times throughout the Supreme Court’s oral arguments Tuesday.
Read the rest of my article at The California Independent Voter Network.Published in